Fast & Easy Fish Cleaning Tips for Walleye, Perch, and Panfish

January 31, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad

The fish cleaning techniques described here are nothing new, and is mainly intended for beginners. This process takes about a minute for each fish, depending on experience. The example shown is using a walleye, but can work all the same on perch, crappies and bluegills. On those crappies, you DO NOT need to scale it first. I hope this increases your ability at cleaning fish.

Slice fish behind the gills all the way to the backbone but don’t sever. You’ll want to angle the knife towards the head so you don’t waste part of the walleye or perch fillet.

Now work the knife along backbone being careful not to cut through it. You’ll want to run the knife all the way to the tail, but leave the skin still attached (don’t cut through).
Now lay the fish out, skin side down. Take your sharp fillet knife and run the knife all the way down the fillet. Keep the knife along the skin so you don’t waste any of the fillet.

You will cut away the fillet from the skin, so you’ll only see a fillet remaing.

Take your fillet knife and go under the rib bones from the top to the bottom, cutting rib bones free. You will want to keep the knife RIGHT UNDER the bones, so you can conserve most of the fillet. It is very important to have a clean knife for this step.

After that you’re pretty much done. You can see what’s on the left is the final product, you can throw the rest away. Rinse off the fillet, stick it in a plastic sealable bag and fill with water until submerged (will eliminate freezer burn). Now it’s ready for the freezer if not the grill or frying pan.
Also you can cut out the cheeks of the fish. This is the best part of the fish, and it’s worth it!


10 Comments on "Fast & Easy Fish Cleaning Tips for Walleye, Perch, and Panfish"

  1. Vin on Wed, 4th Nov 2009 2:01 pm 

    I lived in Michigans U.P. for 6 years and had a friend that showed me this method after he tired of waiting to cook the fish. Sure goes a lot quicker! Helps when you’ve got a _bucket full_ of fish to clean! Cheers, – Vin

  2. craig p on Sun, 29th Nov 2009 9:14 am 

    never heard of eating the cheeks but i will try it after i catch some on my next outing happy fishing

  3. ronin on Thu, 14th Jan 2010 1:56 am 

    nice method
    i gotta try it sometime
    and should defenitly try the cheek 🙂
    all the best

  4. Daryl Wetzstein on Wed, 30th Jun 2010 5:58 pm 

    I have cleaned many walleyes in the past and your example is right on but I was just wondering if there is a way to remove bones from the fillet. I have learned the technique of bone removal from northern pike but I have yet to make a walleye fillet boneless. Is there such a method??

  5. admin on Thu, 1st Jul 2010 8:56 pm 

    With this method, there shouldn’t be any bones. Just takes practice.

  6. Joe on Fri, 13th Aug 2010 2:35 am 

    Excellent cleaning description & pics!! Finaly, It’s much more clear to me. Thanks!!

  7. Ron Holtcamp on Sat, 4th Dec 2010 4:30 pm 

    This method is excellent. Try it with an electric fillet knife.
    Cuts time in half.

  8. Glenn on Mon, 11th Apr 2011 12:02 pm 

    Another technique to get the fillet 100% boneless is to make 2 small cuts on either side of the lateral line(looking at the pics above this would be the red streak) from the tail end of the fillet. Once this is done grab either the top portion or lower portion of the fillet and pull it from the mudvein(lateral bones running thru the middle of the fillet). Grab the mudvein and separate it from the other piece of fillet and it is 100% boneless.

  9. Austin on Mon, 9th May 2011 3:52 pm 

    Ive learned a different form of this method from tradition im doing a school project and also Im a middle schooler

  10. Mr Angler on Thu, 25th Aug 2011 4:05 am 

    I am heading out to do some fishing myself. I like your method and mine is only slightly different. My dad taught me a slower way when I was a kid. He started with the gill cut then went down the backbone cutting into the meat only slightly. After passing the ribs he would slice all the way throughf and completely sever the tail. next he would cut from the gills up the belly and connect with the previous cut. After removing the skin with pliers he would cut the meat away from the ribs. I changed filleting methods when I moved out, and never got why he did it that way. Has anyone else done it that way before? I will hand it to him that while I was practicing it it did prevent me from ever getting bones in the fillets, although this may be true of other techniques as well.

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